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Industry Spotlight

Jobulo looks at how workers progress in particular industries and how someone looking to excel in a certain profession can gain the advantage.

Industry Spotlight: How to Become an Architectural Technologist

carl masonIf you are interested in design and construction, have you ever thought about a career in Architecture? In the latest Industry Spotlight, Jobulo caught up with Carl Mason, an Architectural Technologist, to find out more about the role and to gain some CV advice for those wanting to work in the industry.;

Tell Us About Your Career Background?

I completed an Architectural Technology course in 2004 at Solent University. It was a three year course and enabled me to gain the key skills to work in the industry and to gain the qualifications I needed to apply for a job. Before I finished my course I was able to begin working in the industry when an opportunity at a small practice came up in the New Forest. The company had a couple of apprentices starting at the same time as me so it was great experience. I worked mainly on residential buildings like small extensions and one-off houses. I also helped on a project that involved 32 flats. I gained experience on construction drawings and completed them for a number of projects and helped complete a school building in Bournemouth. But after a few years of working in the role the economic downturn had a big impact on the industry and I found myself looking for work. As there weren’t many opportunities in the UK I decided to go travelling and took a year out to travel across Australia and New Zealand. I then returned to the UK in 2013 and happened to be in the right place at the right time. I emailed a local firm asking about work opportunities and they replied saying they had a position. They had just taken on a new contract so help was needed almost immediately. I went for an interview shortly after and was offered the role and I have been working there ever since.

Why Did You Want to Work in Architecture?

It took me a little while to realise the industry I wanted to work in. I started out studying a sports degree but realised it wasn’t for me. I then worked in retail for a year and didn’t enjoy the job so one day I sat down and tried to pinpoint the areas I was good at and the areas I enjoyed. I quickly realised that I liked drawing and the idea of designing something from scratch and making it a reality. That’s when I started to look at architecture as a career. Now I am really happy in my role and I know it’s the right career path for me. I like working with clients on an end-goal, I like designing something and then being able to see it at completion, I like working with a client and giving them something they are really happy with and it’s really rewarding if you help to complete someone’s home. When I am working on a project I also know that I am going to be able to see my work – new builds are going to be there for at least sixty years so being able to drive past the building and see the product you have worked on is incredibly rewarding. It’s great to know you’ve left your mark on an area too. I never went into this industry for the salary and I think that’s important because I think there is a misconception about the wage. Most people think you earn a lot in this job but there are easier jobs that pay more so I would advise anyone wanting to work in the industry not to do it for the money, do it because you enjoy it.

What Qualifications Are Required to Work in this Industry?

I went down the easier route and I did a three year course to become an Architectural Technologist as there were far less fees involved. However, to become a fully-qualified Architect you do have to study for longer – I think it’s a seven year course. The course is usually split up into three parts and after each section of the course you can go out to work in the industry and gain experience which I think is invaluable. If you want to become an Architectural Technologist you can also do a course part-time, it’s usually one day a week for five years and you can work alongside training. Looking back I would probably have done this as you can gain more on-the-job experience.

What Job Search Tips Can You Offer to Someone Wanting to Work In this Industry?

It always helps if you know someone in the industry so try to get networking. There are also plenty of job sites and agencies and there are some agencies that are specific to the industry so they are worth signing up to. Since the economic downturn, a lot of companies have been hiring people on short-term contracts and this is actually how I got my job. The company I was applying to had a job that they needed help on so the recruitment process was quite quick. Although you might only be taking on a three month contract these temporary roles can lead to full-time employment, can make you more employable and can obviously enable you to meet a lot of industry contacts too. So if there’s a short-term role going don’t be afraid to apply for it. .

What’s an Average Day at Work Like?

It depends on the job you are working on. You could come into the office to a phone call or email from a client wanting your advice or help there and then, so it can be a reactive job. A builder may want you to visit the site that day so you need to be able to act quickly and be flexible.  It can be different every day but most days will be spent in the office; drawing up plans, writing up specifications or you might have to go out and do a survey for a new job and write up reports. But every day is different.

What Is The Best Part of the Job?

The best part of the job is seeing your finished work. Seeing what you have drawn, designed and written about become a finished product is really satisfying.

What is the Hardest Part of the Job?

The industry has changed quite a bit in recent years and there is now a lot more importance on producing paper trails, particularly with Contractors, which can sometimes be a little tedious but it’s important to have detailed paperwork and it’s good practice to put everything in writing.

What Key Skills Do You Need to Become a an Architectural Technologist?

You have to have an interest in design and you have to be interested in how things are put together, technically. A general interest in buildings is needed too. Customer service skills are important too – you often deal with clients directly and you have to build rapport. If you work for a smaller practice you have to get involved in this a lot so it’s good to be versatile.

What CV Tips Can You Share for Someone Applying for Work in this Industry?

Whether you want to work as an Architectural Technologist or become an Architect, experience is great on your CV so try applying for internships and try to gain experience in a wide variety of jobs. I think people can be pigeonholed into one area of architecture like residential, medical, garden centres etc so it’s good to have variety on your CV. If there are any extra courses you can study alongside applying for jobs that can add to your CV – like a course for a specific CAD program, Photoshop and the adobe suite or SketchUp – then try and do them as the more programs you can use, the more employable you are.